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Three talking points as Tottenham Hotspur edged out Crystal Palace at Wembley

Rob Meech

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Tottenham Hotspur ensured there was no Champions League hangover as they scraped past Crystal Palace courtesy of a terrific second-half strike by Son Heung-min.

After their sensational midweek victory over Real Madrid, Spurs could ill-afford to slip up at home to the Premier League’s whipping boys.

Palace proved to be stubborn opposition and it took until after the hour mark for Mauricio Pochettino‘s charges to break the resistance.

The visitors had several gilt-edged chances to salvage at least a point, but their ninth defeat of the campaign keeps them stranded at the foot of the table, already five points adrift of safety.

Here are three talking points…

A landmark afternoon for match-winner Son Heung-min

Taking place on Bonfire Night, this was a game that was lit-up by a wonderful goal by Son. He is now the Premier League’s leading Asian scorer with 20 – and he achieved that landmark in fine style. After an attack had only been half-cleared, Son collected the ball on the edge of the box and curled it past Julian Speroni. It proved to be the difference between the two sides.

The former Bayer Leverkusen star has become a key player for Spurs, without ever really becoming a mainstay of the starting XI. His 20 top-flight goals have come from 72 appearances, many of those from the substitutes’ bench. His versatility makes him an ideal utility man for Pochettino, who can always rely on the South Korean to turn in a whole-hearted performance.

Roy Hodgson left to rue missed opportunities

Although Palace struggled in terms of possession, they had 11 shots on goal and one more on target than their opponents. Eagles boss Roy Hodgson will be scratching his head as to how his side failed to score, in particular Wilfried Zaha who somehow missed an open goal after rounding Spurs’ third-choice keeper Paulo Gazzaniga.

Palace Eagles have looked much more organised since the former England manager took the reins, but have only four points to show from the seven matches he has overseen. Getting the ball in the net is their biggest problem. With only four goals to their name, they are by some distance the lowest scorers in the Premier League. Hodgson may have made Palace harder to beat, but he has much work to do at the other end of the pitch.

Paulo Gazzaniga enjoys a debut to remember 

With Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm both sidelined through injury, Pochettino was forced to call on the 25-year-old Argentinian to deputise between the posts. Given that Palace were the opposition, he probably thought he’d be in for a quiet afternoon at the national stadium. However, Gazzaniga played a crucial role in his side’s victory, with some fantastic saves to keep the Eagles at bay. The highlight was a brilliant to stop to deny Scott Dann’s goal-bound header.

It can’t have been easy to make his debut in such circumstances, but aside from a couple of anxious moments he equipped himself very well. Although the excellent Lloris will walk back into the starting XI when fully fit, Gazzaniga has proved himself to be a more than capable understudy.

Rob is a freelance writer, specialising in football, who previously worked as a sports journalist at the Dorset Echo. A long-standing AFC Bournemouth supporter, Rob can often be found on the terraces at the Vitality Stadium. Follow him on Twitter - @RobMeech

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace should resist the signing of Stoke midfielder Joe Allen

Max Cohen

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Joe Allen
Photo: Getty Images

Reports this week in The Guardian suggested that Crystal Palace have registered interest in signing Joe Allen following Stoke City’s relegation.

Further reports in The Sun claimed the Potters are seeking £20 million for the Welsh international, a hefty price tag that should deter Palace, as they already have sufficient options in the centre of midfield.

During the 2017/18 campaign, Yohan Cabaye, Luka Milivojevic, and James McArthur have all been excellent for the south Londoners.

Between the three, the midfielders have contributed 15 goals and three assists in the Premier League- impressive numbers considering Palace’s goal-shy start to the season under Frank de Boer.

In addition, Chelsea loanee Ruben Loftus-Cheek was a commanding presence in midfield at Selhurst Park. Even though injury hampered his year, the Englishman left his mark at Palace and should be targeted for a permanent deal this year.

(during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Stoke City at Anfield on April 28, 2018 in Liverpool, England.

It is clear that the Eagles have a wealth of options in the centre of the park, and their midfield repertoire was given a boost this week when the Evening Standard reported the club was confident that Cabaye would sign a new contract this summer.

With the influential Frenchman securing his future at Selhurst Park, there is simply no need for the services of Joe Allen in SE25.

Add in the Welshman’s exorbitant £20 million price-tag (which is £7 million more than Palace paid for Cabaye in 2015), it would be a foolish decision for Roy Hodgson to buy the midfielder.

Crystal Palace should resist the urge to splurge for Joe Allen, as money would be best spent on purchasing a top-class striker rather than bolstering an already-impressive midfield.

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Crystal Palace

Ryan Fredericks would be perfect for Crystal Palace if Fulham lose at Wembley

The 25-year-old has earned praise for his performances throughout the season.

Josh Kerr

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Ryan Fredericks
Photo: Getty Images

Fulham defender Ryan Fredericks is just days away from the biggest game of his career and yet the 25-year-old is still being linked with a move away from Craven Cottage.

According to the Evening Standard, the 25-year-old has emerged as a target for Crystal Palace as the Englishman reaches the end of his Cottagers contract.

The former Tottenham prospect helped his current side reach the play-off final last week. However, if the Cottagers are to miss out at Wembley then he may be tempted to consider offers from the top-flight.

The full-back is still yet to sign a new deal and after 47 appearances and an impressive seven assists this season, he has quickly has emerged as one of the hottest properties in the EFL Championship.

After making the PFA Championship Team of the Year, Fredericks remains one of Slavisa Jokanovic’s most important players and if they are to fall short at the final hurdle then Crystal Palace would be the perfect destination for the right-back to play in England’s top flight.

(Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

With Joel Ward likely to leave Selhurst Park next month and, despite Aaron Wan-Bissaka performing well since making the jump from the academy, Fredericks could be a long-term addition at full-back. With his contract soon up at Craven Cottage, he could be one of the bargains of the summer window.

Roy Hodgson and his sporting director Dougie Freedman were even in attendance as Fulham beat Derby 2-0 on Monday to set up the showdown with Steve Bruce’s Villa, which will have sparked the former England international’s attention.

Fredericks started his career in north London with Tottenham Hotspur, progressing through the club’s academy system before signing a professional contract in 2010.

However, an exit from the Lilywhites and a number of loan moves left the young full-back frustrated with game time and it was fellow London side Fulham who eventually took a gamble – a risk that has paid dividends ever since.

The versatile defender has one appearance for England’s Under-19 side to his name, and he is eligible to play for Guyana.

Whether Hodgson swoops for Fredericks could be decided on Saturday. The Fulham defender will likely commit his future to Craven Cottage should Fulham win at Wembley, but the Premier League will remain a possibility even if Jokanovic’s side are unsuccessful.

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Crystal Palace will be kicking themselves over Mandela Egbo

The England youth international left Crystal Palace in 2015.

Mathew Coull

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Young English winger Keanan Bennetts made the news this week, by completing a move to German side Borussia Monchengladbach. The 19-year-old turned his back on Tottenham Hotspur in order to make the move to Germany, a move that is becoming more and more regular.

Jadon Sancho, Ryan Kent and Reece Oxford all played in the Bundesliga this season, whilst Ademola Lookman was on fire for RB Leipzig by the end of the campaign.

But one young man who did the same thing will surely be leaving a sour taste in the mouth at Crystal Palace.

The player in question is 20-year-old defender Mandela Egbo. He is now one of Bennetts’ new team-mates at Gladbach and will no doubt be helping his fellow Londoner settle in the North Rhine-Westphalia.

(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Hackney-born Egbo started his career at Crystal Palace. He swiftly rose through the ranks at the club and looked like a genuine talent for his country as well. Egbo was a member of the England squad that won the European Under-17 Championships back in 2014.

But in 2015 he decided he wanted to leave Crystal Palace. The defender joined Gladbach, where he played with their B team and saw a clearer pathway toward first-team football.

Egbo has since gone on to make his Bundesliga debut and Palace fans will realise they are now missing out on a real talent.

At 20-years-old he now appears to have matured into a very talented footballer. He simply felt that rather than getting a chance at Palace, the Eagles would always buy a new defender instead of giving him a shot.

(Photo by Raquel Costa/Getty Images)

Undoubtedly, it looks as though this has been a good career move for Egbo. Palace, on the other hand, will be disappointed they never managed to keep him in London.

Roy Hodgson would have been delighted to have a player of Egbo’s natural quality available to him in the Palace squad for next season.

Whilst fans at Selhurst Park will be gutted Egbo is not an Eagle anymore, they will no doubt wish him all the best in the Bundesliga. And who knows? Maybe, one day, Egbo will make a return to his boyhood club.

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